Federated Garden        Clubs of          Minnesota, Inc.

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In the summer of 1955, a handful of women met in a garden in Minneapolis and planned for a Federation for Minnesota garden clubs.  This small group, about 14 women, met on November 2, 1955 in Halla Nursery Community Room, and elected their first board with Mrs. Fred Multaler, Minneapolis, as the first president.  This skeleton board of officers and chairmen then proceeded to devote much time and effort and personal finances to spread the news of Minnesota’s application to the NATIONAL COUNCIL OF STATE GARDEN CLUBS.  By springtime, there were 54 clubs with 1200 members, when in October, 1956 in St. Louis, Missouri, at a NATIONAL COUNCIL BOARD MEETNG, Mrs. Multaler accepted the charter of membership on behalf of our state.  She served as president for three years, until January 1959, in order to bring our state into proper rotation cycle with NATIONAL COUNCIL elections.


During those first years the state federation grew like the proverbial ‘Topsy’ in members and in services.  Any of the board members doubled in two or more chairmanships and the NEWSLETTER, which went to every member who paid the 50¢ dues, was a kitchen-made mimeograph single sheet – letter size – bulletin!. . .Flower Show schools were started immediately and the interest and enthusiasm was high in this infant organization.  The first money-raising project was a flower arranging demonstration by Mrs. Laughlin of Cherokee, Iowa – and we filled to capacity the Richfield School auditorium.  Next, the Federation had its own napkin for luncheons, designed by Mrs. Carvel Lee, this plus a seal were offered for club sales.  This met with modest success.

Minnesota felt deeply interested in the objectives of its parent, NATIONAL COUNCIL, and wanted eagerly to learn more about it, and so, flexing its young muscles, invited the Central Region to Minneapolis in September, 1958 to hold its Regional Meeting at the Curtis Hotel.  This was in connection with the Minnesota Centennial.  The meeting was very well attended and we were now taking a place as a spoke in the wheel that promotes the aims and goals of NATIONAL COUNCIL.


In January, 1959 to 1961, Mrs. L.A. Wright (Robbinsdale) became the second state president.  Now the board took on a more authentic image with most positions filled, many chairmanships operating effectively, the budget showing only black figures, the NEWSLETTER graduated into a respectable bulletin of 4 pages – now being printed at a print shop!... and by the end of Mrs. Wright’s term in January, 1961 the first Judges Council was organized for the state.  Membership grew rapidly until it surpassed other states in Central Region. Districts were beginning to function, but the whole state could not be staffed and services offered, so only 4 districts were activated.  The membership grew to approximately 3800 members, and the NEWSLETTER grew in size along with it  . . . a number of statewide Christmas Demonstrations were sponsored by the Federation.  The success of these shows brought excellent revenue, which in turn was reinvested in additional services.  Minnesota had 17 accredited judges in 1959.

                                                                        Mrs. James Bezat

In January 1961, Mrs. James Bezat (Richfield), became the third state president..  This was the year for dues increases from NATIONAL, all the way down the line to Federation and Club and on to each club member . . . While the raise in dues was being justified, all segments of a garden club organization decided to correct their own budgets also . . .And so the raise.  This was also the year that the newly formed clubs began to consolidate into larger clubs and into councils and associations.  The dues now were $1.00 per member to the Federation.  These changes brought abut the disappearance of weak neighborhood clubs.  During Mrs. Bezat’s administration, the first Advanced Refresher Course was held – and very successfully too – adding more interest to our Judges Council activities.  In addition to the many varied projects, like the Veteran’s Altar Flower project and the Greenscape project for the Workshop for the Mentally Retarded, one unusual project was inaugurated – the sponsoring of the Arboretum Bog Garden.  The Sears Roebuck Company provided the initial funds and since it has been established, the Minnesota Federation will provide for future support.  A new district was activated in the Moorhead area during this administration.


In January 1963, Mrs. Carl Poppenberger (St. Paul) became the 4th president.  Emphasis is being placed now on membership and on activating districts north of the Twin Cities, if at all possible.  A statewide Civic Development Contest has been conducted, a revision of By-Laws was completed, and Federation Incorporation was accomplished.  A joint activity with the Minnesota Horticultural Society was planned for September and call ‘Garden Club Day at the U’.  This was in collaboration with the Short Course Series.  A Federation Cookbook is being prepared for publishing, hoping to make this a sustaining income for the organization.. Hearthside Press will print the cookbook with a target date set for July, 1965.  The first Landscape Design Study Course is scheduled for April, 1965.  This is also in conjunction with the University Short Course. . . A garden handbook is being prepared with a possible date of completion in the summer of 1965.  Some firsts in 1964 were the Federation participating in the Aquatennial with a 7 day Flower Festival, and the other was the event at the Dayton Company, which was a first event, where the Federation joined with a community company to put on a Standard Flower Show. The theme was “Fashions in Flowers’ and was held in the Dayton auditorium. There are now 5 districts. At close of this administration there are approximately 3000 members in 164 clubs.  All of Minnesota’s presidents have fulfilled their duties by attending all national meetings required of them, as their responsibility to their state.  Mrs. Wright has served on the National Board in 1961-1963 as Blue Star Chairman (committee member). Minnesota provided a Regional Director in 1961-1963 for Central Region in having Mrs. Multaler served in that capacity.  She has served on the national board in several other capacities, and at present is NATIONAL GARDENER promotion chairman.

Minnesota has, in addition to the usual awards for Flower Show, two special awards – the AGNES WRIGHT AWARD FOR GARDEN THRAPY and the HARRIETT MULTALER AWARD FOR JUNIORS.  Now coming back to the full cycle of federation activity, Minnesota will hostess the Central Region Meeting in Minneapolis in September, 1965.

                                    Submitted by

                                    Mrs. Fred Multaler


                                    January, 1965

FGCM Past Presidents

Harriet Multaler* 1956-1958

Agnes Wright* 1959-1961

Madelyn Bezat* 1961-1963

Della Poppenberger* 1963-1965

Jan Norman* 1965-1967

Elayne Gilhousen 1967-1969

Ruth Seaman* 1969-1971

Betty Reyer* 1971-1973

Helen Brostrom* 1973-1975

Martha Carnes* 1975-1977

Rosella Fefercorn 1977-1979

Aileen Kulak* 1979-1981

Shirley Klaus* 1981-1983

Dorothy Waldron* 1983-1985

                                                      * Deceased

Jane Butterfield* 1985-1987

Val Wagner 1987-1989

Marge Larson* 1989-1991

Dee Ann Roberts 1991-1993

Nancy Allison 1993-1995

Violet Hague 1995-1997

Barbara Mikkelson 1997-1999

Millicent Hisey 1999-2001

Rose Diestler 2001-2003

Phyllis Andrews 2003-2005

Beverly Houts 2005-2007

Barbara Isaacson 2007-2009

Sue Neuhart 2009-2011

Barbara Halverson 2011-2013

Rene' Lynch 2013-2015

Betty Beck 2015-2017

Past Presidents' Photos      

                               Click here for more photos showing the history of the FGCM, Inc.
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